New Solar Concentrator Cell is the Future of Solar Energy
written by: Ashwin Satyanarayana•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 3/24/2010
Solar devices typically have an efficiency of about 14%. What if we had a way of making that, say, 80%? Won't that literally turn the tables around and allow us more alternatives to our growing energy needs on one side and just as rapidly depleting fossil fuels on the other? Is this really possible?
slide 1 of 3
Current Solar Technology
Typically a solar device has an efficiency of up to 14% but now a contraption has been devised which can boast a combined heat and power efficiency of a whopping 80%. That's an incredible boost in the way we can capture and harness solar energy.
Solar energy is a an ultra clean, abundant and very renewable fuel, however, lack of contraptions like these have made it a little too difficult to find ways to harness all of the Sun's power.
slide 2 of 3
What the Future Holds for Solar Concentrator Technology
Thanks to Anna Dyson, an architectural scientist from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, is fervently working on the possibility of having solar energy fill the large gap that is bound to be left behind by the fossil-fuels.
She has devised a simple system to tap in as much power from the sun as possible. On a very basic note, the system consists of an arrangement of lenses with a very highly efficient, miniature solar cell (much smaller and much more powerful than its normal counter parts). These lenses are programmed to track the sun’s movements all day and hence be in direct contact with the Sun’s rays (much like a sunflower) and focus all of those sun beams onto that single, high-efficiency cell such that most of this energy is put to use.
This miniature concentrator cells, along with their concentric lens arrangement and other machinery to allow the contraption to move in accordance with the sun’s movement such that the modules are always perpendicular to the sun rays work like a charm.
Each of these modules (each containing the concentrator cell and the assortment of devices that are finally used to transfer the heat energy into usable forms of energy) is a promising invention that can obviate the need for our dependence on fossil fuels because the output of this finding is comparable to that of the other energy sources that we have been toying with.
It is now being estimated that this device can provide up to 50% of the energy needs for a building and a demo was tried out at The Center for Excellence and Environmental Energy Systems in Syracuse, New York, and at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City by the end of 2009.